Absence of congressional review means that a potential deal with Iran will not be legally binding


At a Senate hearing today, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that a potential agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program would not be a “legally binding plan.” Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned with the extent of concessions the P5+1 have already allegedly made to Iran, and the Obama administration has indicated that they will not submit a potential deal to Congress for approval. The Obama administration has stated that any potential agreement reached will not be a treaty, and therefore will not require the Senate’s approval. Only Congress can permanently lift the tough congressional sanctions that they passed. In the event of a deal, President Obama is planning to rely on his executive authority to temporarily waive these sanctions.

Many experts have noted that that without congressional approval, any deal negotiated by the White House may not last beyond Obama’s term. Earlier this week, 47 Republican Senators wrote a letter to Iran warning that any agreement signed with President Obama without congressional approval may not last beyond Obama’s term as the next President could easily revoke it.

Moreover, experts have stated that an agreement that relies solely on presidential waivers is problematic because, believing that the agreement will only be temporary, Iran may not make serious concessions, and the agreement itself will be easier to break. General Charles Wald, former Deputy Commander of the US European Command, former Senator Charles Robb (D-Va.) and Director of the Foreign Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center Blaise Misztal have argued that “requiring Iran to make irreversible changes in its nuclear program… will likely not result in success for the United States if it is only offering relief that can be rescinded at any time.” Likewise, Harvard Professor Jack Goldsmith writes that lack of congressional review means that “any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous.  And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.” Furthermore, journalist Armin Rosen notes that “without a legal guarantee on the US side, compliance with an agreement is potentially diluted Tehran's side as well.” Responding to Kerry’s assertion today, Professor Goldsmith stated that an agreement that is non-binding is “easier to break (because there is no domestic or international legal obstacle to breaking it).”

Last month, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation that would require congressional review of any potential agreement with Iran, but President Obama has vowed to veto it. The bill would need a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto. According to a poll conducted last year, 69% of Americans believe that Congress should approve any final deal with Iran.


A public opinion poll (Arabic link) conducted recently found that nearly half of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip believe that Hamas movement is the main party responsible for the endless split between Gaza and the West Bank.

The poll was conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between February 25 and March 1, 2015.

According to the poll, a plurality of respondents, 34.3%, blamed Hamas for the continued division in the Palestinian territories. 23.1% put the responsibility on Fatah, 17.8% blamed both movements, and only 7.9% who blamed Israel.

It is noteworthy that the largest proportion of those who blames Hamas (42.7%) are from the Gaza Strip while 29.2% are from the West Bank. That means that nearly half of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip believe that Hamas carries the main responsibility for the split.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in a bloody 2007 coup, ousting the Fatah government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Since then, the two sides have been in a severe schism, with one of the main points of contention between the two organization being Fatah's official support for the peace process. Hamas rejects the peace process and wants to destroy Israel and create an Islamic Palestinian state in its place.

After several failed attempts, the two parties reached an agreement last year on the establishment of a unity government, but since then the various rivalries and ideological differences between the organizations have prevented any progress. Hamas has shown no real desire to end the schism, which would mean giving up much of its control of Gaza.

The poll also showed a clear setback to those who consider Hamas as the winning side in the conflict with Israel last summer. Last October, 57.1% thought that Hamas was the victor in the fighting, but this has plummeted to 40.4% in the current poll. It is also noticeable that the largest proportion of those who considered Hamas as the winning side (46.1%) were from the West Bank. Despite a propaganda campaign to support Hamas' bravado, only 30.9% of residents of the Gaza Strip think that Hamas "won" the war.

The polling comports with reporting by Neri Zilber for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that it is Israel, more than either the PA or Hamas, that is facilitating the reconstruction of Gaza.


Two former Israel Air Force pilots, both passionate athletes, devised a bio-sensing technology embedded in headgear to measure vital signs.

Now, the smart sensors that power their LifeBEAM line of sport caps, visors and helmets are going into Samsung’s future Simband platform for wearable devices to measure heart rate, blood flow, sweat production, calories burned, skin temperature and other fitness parameters.

The idea is to provide a broad spectrum of precision monitoring without weighing down the athlete.

“Chest straps are really uncomfortable, so we’ve taken the technology and put it in an existing wearable,” LifeBEAM marketing manager Cid Carver explains.“You’re already wearing a helmet when you cycle. When you’re running, you already need a hat or visor.”

LifeBEAM’s first product, a smart bicycle helmet ($229), was funded by an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign and went on sale in September last year followed by the fitness caps and visors ($99).They’re available from LifeBEAM’s ecommerce platform and vendors all around the world.

The concept for LifeBEAM came from above, quite literally.

“LifeBEAM’s founders, Omri Yoffe and Zvika Orron, were Israel Air Force pilots who thought of this technology and implemented it for pilots’ helmets, and then realized it can be taken from aerospace to our space,” Carver tells ISRAEL21c.

“Our first mission was keeping jet pilots and astronauts safe as they pulled multiple G’s by sensing critical vitals like heart rate, SPO2, blood flow and physical activity during flight,” the founders explain on the company’s website.“The result: the world’s smallest, most accurate and versatile bio-sensors for motion-intensive activities."

The headgear they designed relies on electro-optical technology to measure heart rate continuously. An optical sensor in the front reads the user’s forehead pulse and transmits a raw signal to the processing unit in the back. The processing unit analyzes the data and sends it to the user’s smartphone or other device. Other sensors in the products accomplish their job in a similar fashion. (via Israel 21c)

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